Was I the Worst Customer at Starbucks — or the Best?
While I'm mostly staying home because of the pandemic, I sometimes treat myself to a Starbucks beverage while I'm out running errands.
I have traditionally been a black coffee drinker (blonde roast, mostly), which means my orders are easy and they are ready quickly.
In recent years, though, I have really fallen in love with the Nitro Cold Brew that's available at Starbucks and a growing number of coffee shops. Don't bother with the canned version of the Starbucks drink — it just doesn't live up to the real thing (although other canned nitro coffees are much better).
I generally eschew the real sugary and milky Starbucks beverages (too many carbs). But, a reasonable indulgence has been the recently introduced “Nitro Cold Brew with Dark Cocoa Almondmilk Foam.” That's a mouthful. It's only 40 calories, and I can rationalize that dark cocoa and almondmilk are reasonably healthy.
To help minimize my contact with others (even though I am always wearing a mask, as is thankfully required at Starbucks stores), I order through the Starbucks app.
I've ordered this beverage a few times before and I pulled it up on the app:
The app had a new feature that I appreciated. I ordered from the parking lot, but the app said that if I parked in a numbered spot, the barista would bring it out to my car when it was ready.
The app gives an estimate of the lead time (it said 6 to 9 minutes). I would normally go in, but if you go inside too early you'll have additional exposure to others (even with a mask) and if you go in too late, your drink might start getting warm. I felt lazy, but I rationalized it and chose the car delivery option.
I received my beverage and thanked the barista (and I didn't time how long it took, even though I am an industrial engineer after all). The drink looked normal, but I took a sip and noticed ice cubes in the drink.
“Hmmm, that's not normal, that's not right,” I thought to myself. I'm a little embarrassed to say that my first thought was that the barista had made it incorrectly. Maybe it was a training issue or a simple mixup.
I walked inside and politely asked if they could remake it without ice cubes.
“But it's a cold brew, so…”
I replied that I had ordered the nitro cold brew… and they politely corrected me and, as it showed on the sticker on the side of the cup, the order went through as cold brew — without nitrogen and foam, it DOES get ice.
The mistake was MINE, not theirs. They were not mistaken about that.
I apologized and quickly admitted I had ordered the wrong beverage. I chose from the top row, not the second row. Otherwise, the drinks have similar appearances and similar names.
The baristas graciously offered to make the correct beverage.
As she was making it (and as I continued to apologize), she kindly suggested a process improvement on my part (although she didn't use those exact words).
“You know, you can save the beverage as a favorite so you can more easily call it up in the app next time.”
“Great, I'll do that.”
But, I had trouble figuring out how (and I'm good with technology).
Another barista came around to show me how to do it. It turns out that favoriting a beverage requires that you first add it to your cart. See the green heart?
I again apologized. I made sure to put a few bucks into the tip jar (one of the few times I've used cash in the last six months).
I said, quite literally,
“I must be the worst customer you've had today.”
The barista who was making the second drink for me said,
“No, you're the BEST, because you're trying to figure it out instead of just being wrong. Most people are happy being wrong.”
I really appreciated that.
We all make mistakes. But, hopefully we learn from them. Instead of blaming others (or blaming the app), I took responsibility for my mistake.
It was a little mistake… sometimes we make bigger mistakes. Learning from them (instead of repeating them) makes all the difference.
Those are some of the themes that my guests and I explore in my new podcast “My Favorite Mistake.” I hope you'll check it out.